Chemistry World is running an article in its December issue titled Surfing Web2O that briefly touches on the subject of chemistry blogs. From analysis to commentary to news gathering, blogging is changing the way large numbers of people relate to each other and the world around them. Why should chemistry be immune to this phenomenon?
One thing that is clear is that scientific blogging, in contrast to traditional scientific publication, is a much more fluid and engaging medium. Roald Hoffman, in his recent Boston ACS talk used the term "ossified" to describe the current state of chemistry publication. Although he went on to talk about how Angewandte Chemie was different, for a split second I though he might start talking about chemistry blogs.
Every new medium has its problems - and chemistry blogging is no exception. First, there's the credibility problem - the perception that the information content of chemistry blogs is somehow innately lower than print journals (a problem that every new medium faces). But beyond this are the much larger problems of understanding how this new medium works, what it can offer you as a participant, and what you might be giving up by participating.
Recent Depth-First articles have touched on some of these subjects:
- Self Referential One of the least obvious side-effects of blogging is that you make it onto Google's radar - big time. How valuable would it be to 'own' the top search terms in your field?
- Advice to Job Seekers From C&E News: Blog Thyself Getting a job: the killer app for scientific blogging?
- Thinking of Starting an Anonymous Science Blog? Five Reasons to Think Again It's a small, small world.
- Ten Things That Surprised Me About Blogging Title says it all.
- Go West Young Man: Does Open Access Really Matter in the Long Run? Why the future of scientific publication may look a lot more like Google, Digg, and Feedburner and a lot less like the ACS.
You may be curious about starting a chemistry blog of your own, but what makes a good one? There are dozens of styles that seem to work, but for me the key qualities come down to a clear purpose (high signal-to-noise ratio), consistency, and attention to detail. Here are some (but by no means all) that I think work especially well:
- Chemical Blogspace This isn't actually a chemistry blog, but rather a chemistry blog aggregator run by Egon Willighagen. Whether you're new to chemistry blogs or not, this is essential reading.
- Molecule of the Day To the point and always on topic.
- In the Pipeline One of the first, and best, in the field. Proof that blogging and working in industry are not incompatible.
- Kinase Pro Analyzing the Kinase patent literature one day at a time.
- Computational Organic Chemistry Companion to a book on the same subject.
- Drugs and Poisons Entertaining, informative, and always on topic.
- The Half Decent Pharmaceutical Chemistry Blog Three words: Saturday Night Synthesis.
- Sigma-Aldrich's ChemBlogs Proof that scientific product marketing can be much more than it currently is. Also see this article.
- A Synthetic Environment Top five lists galore, the history of chemistry, and always something unexpected.
- University of Ottawa NMR Facility Blog Short writeups on NMR.
- Totally Synthetic Chemistry blogs can continue the scientific discussion in real time after a paper has been published. Totally Synthetic offers an excellent model for doing this.
- Carbon-Based Curiosities Chemistry isn't supposed to be that much fun, is it?
New media never succeed by trying to imitate the content or form of established media; they succeed by doing what established media can't. The same is true for chemistry blogging. The established peer-review, publisher-controlled system of scientific communication does many things poorly. Look to blog-like online chemical resources to exploit these weaknesses and thrive.